The death of baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has kick-started an important topic -- the marriage of baseball with chewing tobacco.

Gwynn died of cancer, and until his death he was adamant that his 20-year habit of dipping while playing the sport caused his disease. Efforts by Major League Baseball to get smokeless tobacco banned have failed because of resistance from the players' union, though dip, snuff and chew are banned in the minors and college baseball.

Nevertheless, it's a compelling question: Should baseball ban chewing tobacco? Is it bad for the game's image? Does it send the wrong message to young players who may want to emulate the pros?

A few good reads on the subject:

And from the Mayo Clinic, in case you don't believe chewing tobacco is a severe health risk: Health risks of chewing tobacco and other forms of smokeless tobacco.

-- Phillip Tutor